This year was the first time I went to the huge event that is the Miami Book Fair. It was a rush to be surrounded by so many books and book lovers. Yes, I am a total book nerd and that was my paradise. I was over the top elated to be there.
As a rookie I was unsure where to start but I knew I wanted to take full advantage of the many activities that were part of the book fair. There were so many interesting workshops, author talks and author signings going on simultaneously, I had to choose wisely and that was not easy.
I knew I would be there on Friday, which helped to narrow my choices. I finally decided to attend a workshop with an intriguing title: Publishing Boot Camp with Sandra Dijkstra, the number one agent on the west coast of the Dijkstra Agency. Her extensive client list includes bestselling authors Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club), Anchee Min (The Last Empress) and Chitra Divankaruni to name just a few.
The workshop consisted of a two hour lecture with questions at the end. I found Ms. Dijkstra to be an eloquent and engaging speaker with an entertaining sense of humor. I admire how quick she was on her feet during the Q & A. She managed to answer each and every question politely and informatively no matter how absurd the question. And there were a few weirdo’s there but that’s to be expected, it's Miami after all. I was a sponge absorbing everything she had to say. I must admit that I wish the boot camp was longer. Two hours was only long enough to cover the basics and I would have loved to hear more.
So here are the basics. The following is relevant information that each author needs to figure out before attempting to pimp their material. Sandra broke it down into five questions and it really is THE place to start on your publishing journey. Once you have answered the questions you will have a better idea of how to proceed.
Five Questions Authors need to answer before seeking an agent.
1. What do you have to say that is uniquely you and different from everyone else?
2. What is the connection between you and your book?
3. What information do you have to impart specifically? What story do you have to tell?
4. When do you want to see this book published? Will it be your only book or do you want a writing career?
5. Why should my story exist?
These very basic questions should help you figure out what you need to do next. You may find that you do not need an agent if your book is better suited to self publishing. If you decide you need an agent you need to find one with experience in the genre of your book. Some resources are previously published authors acknowledgements and guides such as writers and illustrators that you can find at your local library.
So there you have it. I hope you have a clue. Good luck to you.